Restoring an old camera and giving it a new life is something truly special. Especially if it’s a heritage, and it’s almost a century old. Max from Analog Insights inherited an 85-year-old Leica, and it looked like it was beyond repair. But a friend helped him bring it to life and take some neat shots with it as if it were new. In this video, Max shares the story of his new old camera, as well as some photos that he took with it.
When he came for a visit, Max’s aunt gave him a bag of cameras that her husband wanted to give to a local camera store. Thankfully, their daughter interfered saying that they might let Max take a look at it first. And so he did. When he opened the bag, there were two 16mm film cameras and a Leica IIIA from 1935. It had some accessories and two lenses, a 50mm f/2 Summar and a 28mm f/6.3 Hektor lens.
Max brought the camera home with him and gave it to his friends Jules and Greg for an assessment. At the first sight, it was in decent shape, with a desperate need for cleaning. However, the test roll of film showed its true condition: it needed way more than just a good scrub. Everything needed to be tightened, adjusted, cleaned, even replaced. The 50mm lens was quite hazy, with some huge pieces of plastic inside. So, there was a lot of work to do.
The initial idea was to send the camera to the official Leica repair service. However, Max says that his previous experience wasn’t exactly stellar, and also – it would be way too expensive. So, he asked Jules if he was willing to repair the camera. And despite having no experience with repairing a Leica, he took the challenge.
Jules disassembled the whole camera carefully and lined the pieces on the table so that he could put them back in place later. He used watchmaker tools to work with tiny screws and springs. He had to fix and adjust almost everything on the camera, even replace the leather cover on the outside. But he did a marvelous job! When he cleaned the camera and fixed all the bits and pieces, Max tested it out with both color and black and white film, and this time the shots were way better!
Max also managed to trace back the history of the camera. It turned out that it had seen and shot a lot since 1935 when it was purchased. And after Jules repaired it, Max paired it with a leather strap to match with the new look of this old, gorgeous camera.
I loved this video most of all because it’s a warm story of investing time and love into repairing a family heritage. It reminded me of my old Zenit which I inherited from my dad, although I have no idea when he bought it. Do you have an old camera that’s equally precious to you? Have you had it repaired or it’s just somewhere on your shelf as an ornament?